Mid-engine marvel: 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray to add hot Z06, cool plug-in hybrid

2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe in Amplify Orange

by Chuck Giametta

What changes will make the 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray different?

Introduction of the 600-plus-horsepower Z06 and perhaps launch of the most radical Corvette yet – a plug-in hybrid with all-wheel drive. The Z06 is confirmed for model-year 2022. But sources differ on whether the hybrid, which could be badged the E-Ray, will arrive in time for model-year ’22 or late enough to be a ’23.

Regardless of timing or name, they’re the vanguard of variations that over the next few years will further expand the lineup of this eighth-generation ‘Vette, itself the most radical interpretation of America’s premier sports car. The C8 debuted for model-year 2020, abandoning the front-engine layout used since the 1953 original for a mid-engine design that places its big V-8 behind the two-seat cockpit.  

The core of the 2022 lineup will continue with coupe and convertible body styles sharing a base engine of 490 horsepower, a dual-clutch automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. Don’t expect any C8 to ever offer a manual transmission. But we’d urge Chevrolet to make available basic safety features already standard on virtually every other vehicle sold in the U.S., including subcompact Chevy crossovers that cost a fraction of the ‘Vette’s $61,000 starting price. Foremost would be autonomous emergency braking designed to automatically stop the car to mitigate a frontal collision.            

Should I wait for the 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray or buy a 2021?

2021 Corvette Stingray coupe with roof panel removed

Unless you’ve already placed an order for a ’21, you’ll have to get in line for a ’22. Chevy stopped taking new orders for 2021 Corvettes in March 2021, with thousands of customers still awaiting deliveries. Demand exceeded supply from the start, with production at the C8’s Bowling Green, Ky., plant interrupted first by a union strike, then by Covid-19 shutdowns, then by pandemic-related parts shortages.

Dealers will begin taking orders for the 2022 Corvette Stingray and Z06 in July 2021. If the Corvette plugin-hybrid launches as a 2022 model, sources say orders could open toward the end of calendar 2021.

Unless Chevy surprises us and supplies the 2022 Corvette with more safety features, expect the core coupe and convertible to return essentially unaltered. Both should again offer base 1LT, midrange 2LT, and topline 3LT trim levels. Chevy labels these Corvette Stingrays. Among minor changes, are three new color choices: Amplify Orange, Caffeine, and Hypersonic Gray.

2022 Corvette Stingray coupe in Hypersonic Gray

Waiting for the ’22 will give you a shot at the Z06, a racetrack-focused special with modified styling and a unique engine.

Waiting will also position you to consider the plug-in hybrid. Whether designated a ’22 or a ’23, or called the E-Ray or something else, this first electrified Corvette is likely to pair the base V-8 with two front-mounted electric motors. It’ll be capable of driving short distances on battery power alone but will primarily use its motors to augment acceleration and provide AWD. Incidentally, as of mid-April 2021, Chevy had not confirmed the plug-in will be called the E-Ray, although GM has trademarked “E-Ray.”          

Will 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray styling be different?

2021 Corvette Stingray convertible

Only by virtue of the Z06 and E-Ray. Offered as a coupe and convertible, the Z06 will depart most from the Stingray’s look.

Like every Corvette ever, it’ll have fiberglass body panels, but they’ll likely be lighter in weight, include more cooling vents, and bulge to fit larger wheels and tires. Expect aero addenda, with some reports foreseeing a rear wing shaped to evoke the Corvette logo. It might also be available with a Z07 package that could include active aero elements, including spoilers and side skirts. It could also offer lightweight carbon-fiber wheels an inch larger than the 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloys standard on Stingrays.

Along with specific badges and probably a unique logo, the E-Ray is also likely to get some wind-cheating details, but they’d be subtle. It might also ride exclusive wheels. And it would include a second gas-filler-type door, possibly in a front fender, for its plug-in port.     

In addition to the new paint colors, the carryover Stingrays could get some new stripe packages and perhaps yet more wheel options. Otherwise, they’ll retain the look that came with the 2020 redesign. It preserved some familiar Corvette elements, such as the general shape of the nose, but applied them to a wholly new mid-engine identity.

2021 Corvette Stingray coupe

The racy result emphasizes the engine’s placement, with a cockpit-forward profile and huge side vents. Indeed, the coupe’s glass rear hatch showcases the engine, which Chevy says was designed with appearance in mind, down to the bolts and fasteners. Look for the return of a $995 package that jazzes it further with carbon-fiber trim and engine-bay lighting. 

Expect ’22 Stingray coupes to retain a standard removable roof panel while convertibles reprise a power-folding solid panel that stows in the engine bay, eliminating the glass hatch. A carbon-fiber roof package, a $3,495 option for ’21, should return. Exterior details will again include sequential LED rear turn signals and concealed touchpads for door handles and hood and hatch releases.

The ’21 Stingray featured 12 exterior color choices and the ’22 should offer at least that many. Customizable options should again include extra-cost hues; $995 Red Mist tintcoat was among the 2021 choices and Amplify Orange is likely to be among the 2022 premium colors, perhaps at around $500. Other appearance options should again include $595 red or yellow brake calipers, a $2,095 carbon-fiber front grille insert, various $995 stripe sets, and $995 side vents in body color instead of black. Expect the Z51 Performance Package option to again add a rear spoiler and front splitter.

The ’22 Stingray should again be available with a variety of wheel choices. The ’21 offered six in a range of polished and dark finishes, from a $995 open-spoke carbon flash design to a $2,895 black five-trident spoke. 

2021 Corvette Stingray

The C8 rewrote the recipe for Corvette interiors. The ’22 will return the distinctive squared-circle steering wheel, 12-inch configurable digital gauge cluster, and 8-inch infotainment touchscreen. Transmission operation is via large metal steering-wheel paddles and, on the center console, pull toggles for Reverse and Drive and pushbuttons for Park, Neutral, and Low/Manual. The interior’s most unusual element will again be the slender central spine housing some 20 climate-control buttons.

Perforated leather upholstery will remain standard; “Performance Textile” should return as a no-charge option. The ’22 Stingray should again offer at least six interior color themes, six seatbelt colors, even yellow and red accent stitching in place of the light gray used with the standard black interior. The 3LT would again be the most opulent, with a leather-wrapped dashboard, doors, and console and sueded microfiber on the headliner, visors, and pillars.

Multiple seat designs should be available, too. The ’21 offered three. The 1LT and 2LT trims came with GT1 seats. They emphasize comfort and have lumbar and wing adjustments. Standard on the 3LT and a $1,495 option for the 2LT were GT2 seats. They added Napa leather inserts, carbon-fiber trim, heating and ventilation, and were available with two-tone sueded microfiber inserts at no additional charge.

2021 Corvette Stingray 3LT

Optional on all (at $500 for the 3LT and $1995 for the others) were Competition Sport seats. These built on the GT2 buckets with more aggressive side bolsters and on the 1LT, used “Performance textile” instead of the Nappa leather. The 2022 Z06 could get its own version of the Competition Sport seats, perhaps designed to accommodate a racing harness system. 

Expect 2022 1LT models to again come with Chevy’s Infotainment 3 Plus system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and Alexa voice recognition. The 2LT and 3LT, and likely the Z06 and E-Ray, should get the Infotainment 3 Premium system with embedded navigation that doesn’t require a cell signal to deliver real-time GPS mapping. It also includes the Performance Data Recorder, which logs video, audio, driving metrics, and more onto an SD card for your later review. Infotainment 3 Premium should return as an option for the ’22 1LT at around $1,800.

All this should keep the cabin of the ’22 Corvette Stingray a model of entertaining design and a venue for serious driving. Materials quality – aluminum, stainless steel, and leather — is top-notch, no matter the trim level. Switchgear action is short-stroke sure. A leather rest positions your palm perfectly above the console’s Driver Mode Selector. Like every panel in the cabin, it’s reassuringly solid beneath just the right degree of padding.

2021 Corvette Stingray

Acclimating to the transmission gear-selector strategy takes time. That spine of climate-system buttons is a clever design element, solves a space problem, and beats incorporating the controls into the touchscreen. There are lots of them, though. They’re small and not easy to locate or adjust while driving. Automatic climate control is standard, and it’s best to simply use it. It even automatically heats the seats and steering wheel at frosty temps.

In our tests, the steering wheel didn’t seem unorthodox in use and doesn’t interrupt your view of the gauges. That display, like the central dashboard screen, is crisply rendered. Also well defined and informative is the color head-up display standard on 2LT and 3LT and likely included with the Z06 and E-Ray. It projects onto the windshield into the driver’s field of vision key instrument readings, navigation instructions, and other data.

Outward visibility is excellent to the front, problematic to the rear. About 30 feet of road behind the car is invisible through the rearview mirror’s regular setting. Expect every ’22 Corvette except the 1LT coupe to return with a video mirror that can display a wide-angle view aft. That covers most of what the regular mirror misses but doesn’t provide a totally accurate picture of the distance between your C8 and other vehicles.

Any car this low can make entry and exit a challenge for the less than limber. But there’s plenty of leg, shoulder, and head room once aboard. You’ll not hear much wind rush over the copious tire rumble, mostly from the rear. And the high-performance V-8 just inches behind your head sounds curiously pedestrian at cruising speed. Hitting the gas unleashes an inspiring lion’s roar, especially with the Performance Exhaust. An $1,195 option on all ’21 Stingrays, expect it to return for ’22 brining with it a slight boost in engine power, along with stainless steel exhaust tips.

2021 Corvette Stingray coupe rear trunk holds removable roof panel

Interior storage space is sparse. Door pockets are tiny, the console box modest. The glove compartment is useful, however, and your phone stows securely in a bulkhead slot that on 2LT and 3LT trims doubles as a wireless charger.

Two trunks, one in the nose, the other behind the engine, total 12.6 cubic feet and are surprisingly useful if you pack lightly, using multiple flexible containers. (Chevy will sell you a set of logoed custom-fit leather travel bags for $1,450.) The automaker says the front trunk fits an airline-spec carryon plus a laptop. The rear is configured to hold the coupe’s roof panel.

Any 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray mechanical changes?

2022 Corvette Stingray coupe in Caffeine

Yes, but only with arrival of the Z06 and if it launches as a 2022 model, the E-Ray. The 2022 Stingray coupe and convertible will carryover with no notable mechanical changes, retaining a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8. It should return with 490 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque (consider torque the prime ingredient in acceleration). The Performance Exhaust option should again add 5 horsepower and 5 pound-feet of torque.

Beyond the styling alterations already noted, the 2022 Corvette Z06 should get a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V-8 of some 617 horsepower and around 500 pound-feet of torque. It should feature a flat-plane crankshaft, an exotic touch that’ll help it rev to nearly 9000 rpm (the base V-8 produces peak horsepower at 6450 rpm.)

Expect the E-Ray to team a version of the base 6.2-liter with the two electric motors for combined output somewhere between that of the Stingrays and the Z06. Drawing an initial charge from a residential or commercial outlet, it would be able to travel short distances on electricity alone – in front-wheel drive.

Initial charge depleted, it would behave like a conventional hybrid, recharging its onboard battery from energy harvested during braking and coasting. Sensors would automatically determine the optimal mix of electric, gas, and combined power to optimize mileage and performance. It would probably share with the base 6.2-liter a fuel-saving system that deactivates four cylinders during low-demand driving.

2021 Corvette Stingray

The 2022 Z06 and E-Ray are building blocks of other special ‘Vettes to come. A future Grand Sport is likely to combine the base engine with the Z06 body and suspension. Model-year 2023 could welcome the ZR1 with 825-850 horsepower from a highly tuned naturally aspirated V-8 or a twin-turbo version of the Z06’s 5.5-liter.

With the E-Ray name unconfirmed for the plug-in hybrid, Chevy could be reserving it for the first all-electric Corvette, a 2024 model that would build on the plug-in with a larger battery pack and one or two additional motors to power the rear wheels. Finally, the 2025 C8 Zora might ally a twin-turbo Z06 engine with plug-in hybrid-type front motors. Named for legendary Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, it would be a 900-1,000-horsepower AWD supercar.

Meanwhile, all 2022 Corvettes, along with the E-Ray, will continue with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic as their sole transmission. First gear is ratioed for fast launches, gears two through six for power underway, seventh and eighth for low-stress cruising. A multitude of driver-selectable settings will again be standard: Weather, Tour, Sport, Track, configurable MyMode, and, for the most precise engine and transmission adjustment, Z mode activated by a steering-wheel button.

The popular Z51 Performance Package should return as an option for base-engine 2022 Stingrays and could be offered in some form on the E-Ray. It cost $5,995 for model-year ’21 and should again include the power-enhancing performance exhaust; upgraded brakes, suspension, and cooling system; an acceleration-sharpening rear axle ratio; and an electronic limited-slip differential. It’ll continue with the standard wheel and tire sizes but with summer tires with higher-performance tread in place of Stingray’s standard all-season rubber. The E-Ray could roll on unique tires and special wheels designed to enhance fuel economy. 

Magnetic Selective Ride Control should return as an option across the board. It integrates with the Driver Mode Selector to adjust ride stiffness. Z51-fitted ’22 Stingrays will again be available Z51 Magnetic Selective Ride Control that adds Performance Traction Management designed to contribute to higher cornering speeds and greater control. Both control systems cost $1,895 for ’21.

Expect the Z06 and E-Ray to have specific drive modes and suspension calibrations tailored to their unique powertrains. The Z06 could go a step further than the Z51 setup by offering GM’s racetrack-honed Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve system, as well as carbon-ceramic brakes. As on base Stingrays, the Z06 and plug-in-hybrid digital gauge clusters would deliver graphics and data customized for each mode.

2021 Corvette Stingray coupe

At around 3 seconds 0-60 mph in base form and 2.8 with Z51 package, any 2022 Corvette will again deliver thrilling acceleration. Default settings – transmission in Drive, mode selector in Tour – makes for a relatively docile manner. But the car’s always ready to pounce, and more antagonistic modes such as Sport and Track turn it predatory.

The excellent weight distribution that helps catapult the Stingray off the line is evident in changes of direction. The car’s center of gravity is close to the driver’s inside hip, so in fast turns, the C8 feels as if it’s rotating around the cockpit. Combined with the quick, accurate steering, absence of body lean, and spectacular grip driving any 2022 Corvette aggressively should remain an adrenaline rush. 

Choose Tour mode for best bump absorption. Opt for Magnetic Ride Control to further mediate the worst impacts. Do not, however, expect the taut C8 to ride like anything but the thoroughbred high-performance sports car it is.

Will 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray fuel economy improve?

2021 Corvette Stingray coupe

EPA ratings for the carryover Stingray models should repeat those for model-year 2021: 15/27/19 mpg city/highway/combined for both coupe and convertible. Count on lower  ratings for the more powerful 2022 Z06.

It’s an admittedly rough guess but expect the plug-in hybrid to drive an EPA-estimated 10-15 miles or so on electricity alone. Running as a hybrid, look for around 31 mpg city-highway combined. Chevy should continue to recommend 91-octane or higher gas for the 2022 Stingrays and for the E-Ray and require it for the ’22 Z06.

Will there be new 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray features?

2021 Corvette Stingray 3LT

Other than the possible addition of safety tech and features associated with the Z06 and E-Ray, don’t anticipate much new for the’22 Corvette’s roster of standard and optional equipment. It’s already brimming with convenience and performance items – and we haven’t even mention appearance options such as front-fender hash stripes ($245) and rear Corvette script in blue or red ($395).

As for those driver assists, the ’21 Stingray offered very useful blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection that alerts drivers to unseen vehicles in adjacent lanes. Front and rear cameras (with a front curb view) and rear obstacle detection made parking less stressful. All this was standard – but only on the 2LT and 3LT. These assists were unavailable on the 1LT. 

Even casting the C8 as a purist performance machine ignores logic that in today’s crazy traffic environment, even the best drivers benefit from the occasional automatic intercession. Chevy could even let the owner disable these enhanced assists via touchscreen icons, as it already does with the car’s seatbelt reminder. That’s better than not offering them.

We’d begin with autonomous emergency braking as standard equipment. Cruise control should return as standard on every ’22 Corvette. But adaptive cruise that can maintain a set distance from traffic ahead would make long drives less taxing.  Lane-maintaining automatic steering correction, not to mention lane-centering assist, is another common aid that might appeal, especially if they could be turned off easily.

Absence of such features is certain to hurt C8 safety ratings from the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the independent and influential Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Neither had issued ratings or crash-test results for the C8 in time for this review. But a Chevy statement to CarPreview in April 2021 seems to hint the automaker isn’t locked into the model-year-2021 C8 safety scheme.

2021 Corvette Stingray convertible

“We can’t comment with specificity on future product, but safety continues to be at the center of everything we do at Chevrolet,” a spokesperson said. “We are committed to continue rolling out active safety features that provide our drivers with peace of mind across our entire portfolio. Stay tuned for more information.”

In addition to those already noted, look for returning standard features to include a tire fill alert that lets the driver know when appropriate pressure has been reached. The 2LT and 3LT should return with a factory theft-deterrent system, power-folding outside mirrors, and in place of the standard 10-speaker audio system, a Bose-branded upgrade with 14 speakers and stainless-steel speaker grilles.

Among the more interesting options likely to return is a front suspension lift that protects the low-slung nose from damage by speedbumps, steep driveways, and the like. It increases clearance about 1.6 inches in 2.8 seconds and operates at vehicle speeds up to 24 mph. It can be programmed to work automatically through the navigation system to remember up to 1,000 locations. For ’21, it was a $1,995 option for the 2LT and 3LT.

Will 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray prices be different?

2021 Corvette Stingray coupes

They’re almost sure to increase, especially if additional safety features are added as standard equipment. Chevy didn’t raise the base price of the 2021 1LT over its model-year-’20 counterpart bit did increase 2021 2LT and 3LT base prices $1,000.

For reference, here are 2021 C8 base prices, including the manufacturer’s $1,095 destination fee. For coupes, the 1LT started at $60,995, the 2LT at $68,295, and the 3LT at $72,945. For the 2021 Stingray convertible base prices were $68,495 for the 1LT, $75295 for the 2LT, and $79,945 for the 3LT.

Expect the 2022 Z06 to be priced from $85,000-$90,000. E-Ray base prices should fall between those of the Z06 and the regular Stingrays.

It’s worth noting that with options, the average 2021 C8 transaction price was around $86,000. That’s $26,000 more than the average transaction price on its immediate predecessor, the 2019 C7.

When does the 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray come out?

2021 Corvette Stingray coupe

Expect a 2022 Corvette Stingray release date in summer 2021. The 2022 Z06 should go on sale later in 2021.

Best 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray competitors

Acura NSX; Audi TT RS; BMW Z4; Nissan GT-R; Porsche 911 Carrera, 718 Boxster and Cayman; Toyota Supra

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]